WASHINGTON -- Democrats went home for the spring recess hoping they had weathered the worst of the Republican attacks on Obamacare, only to get pounded in town halls by angry voters intent on turning up the heat from now until election day.
The GOP's House and Senate campaign committees were escalating their offensive, too, on a growing list of vulnerable Democrats who voted no then yes on the final health package, killing the Viagra amendment that is further enflaming political passions back home.
For weeks the Viagra issue has been burning up the airwaves on talk radio where conservatives charged that sex offenders could get Viagra and other drugs treating erectile dysfunction under Obamacare plans. The major media refused to touch the issue, until the Congressional Research Service confirmed last week that taxpayer-subsidized health plans under the Democrats' new law could indeed provide sex-enhancing medications to people who want them.
In a memorandum, the nonpartisan CRS told Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Okalahoma, who's a medical doctor, that there were no restrictions in the new law "which would require health plans to limit the type of benefits that can be offered based on the plan beneficiary's prior criminal convictions."
"Additionally, there do not appear to be any provisions that would specifically restrict qualified health plans' coverage of drugs prescribed to treat ED," the memo said.
Congress' official research arm said "a convicted rapist, child molester, or other sex offender who is not incarcerated would not appear to be excluded from enrolling in a qualified health plan through an American Health Benefit Exchange in their state solely because of that conviction."
Coburn was ridiculed by Democrats when he offered an amendment last month during Senate consideration of the bill to prevent such people getting Viagra prescriptions under the administration's medical care law.
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin of Illinois called it a "gotcha amendment" to embarrass Democrats in the elections, and it was rejected by the Democratic majority 57 to 42.
Last week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee sent press releases on the CRS memo to local media outlets in nearly a dozen states whose senators voted against Coburn's amendment, calling their no vote "disgusting," "disturbing," and "revolting."
Meantime, lawmakers who voted for Obamacare were feeling the heat of angry voters who packed town hall events in surprisingly large numbers so early in the election cycle.